Preview of Week 8 in College Football: Insights from Vegas Odds

By Case Keefer (contact)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023 | 2 a.m.

Penn State’s place in college football history hangs in the balance as two distinct eras approach a conclusion, marked by the Nittany Lions’ absence from the national spotlight.

In 1998, the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game was introduced to college football, and many believed that Penn State would quickly become a perennial contender. However, over the 16-year history of the event, the Nittany Lions never made an appearance. Similarly, since the inception of the four-team College Football Playoff in 2014, Penn State has never secured a spot, leaving them with one last opportunity before the impending expansion and conference realignment next year.

The silver lining is the 2023 squad, arguably Penn State’s strongest in a quarter-century. With an unblemished 6-0 record, both straight-up and against the spread, they have a chance to prove their worth in the upper echelons of college football. The pivotal test comes this Saturday, as they face Ohio State as 4-point underdogs, the shortest spread they’ve seen at Ohio Stadium since 2008 during Coach Joe Paterno’s final Big Ten championship season.

This season’s Big Ten landscape appears to be a three-team battle, with Michigan leading the pack at +135, Ohio State at +215, and Penn State at +315. Considering Michigan or Ohio State’s six-year stranglehold on the Big Ten title, Penn State’s climb to the top of the betting board is a notable achievement. But the Nittany Lions have their sights set on more.

A crucial matchup awaits against Michigan on November 11, just two games after the Ohio State showdown this weekend. These games may be the key to ensuring that Penn State doesn’t go 25 consecutive years without a shot at a national championship. Considering their impressive performance in the first half of the season, Penn State remains a strong contender.

Continue reading for insights on every Football Bowl Subdivision game in Week 8. Picks are categorized into three confidence levels: ‘plays,’ ‘leans,’ and ‘guesses.’ The provided lines are the best available in Las Vegas at the time of publication. The season’s record for game predictions stands at 177-192-8, with 47-49-1 for ‘plays,’ 55-61-2 for ‘leans,’ and 75-83-5 for ‘guesses.

Key Matchups

Penn State vs. Ohio State (+4) – Over/Under: 47: The spotlight is on Ohio State’s defense, often overshadowed by concerns about their offense. They now potentially possess one of the nation’s best defenses. Penn State’s impressive offensive stats may face a challenge against Ohio State’s disruptive defensive unit. Prediction: Ohio State -4.

UCF vs. Oklahoma (+20) – Over/Under: 65: UCF appears to be a ‘buy-low’ team after a three-game losing streak marred by injuries. With improved health and peak talent, they’re set to give any opponent a run for their money. Prediction: UCF +20.

Washington State vs. Oregon (+20.5) – Over/Under: 62: Oregon, coming off a devastating loss to Washington, faces the challenge of bouncing back. The spread appears slightly inflated and influenced by Washington State’s recent struggles, but they’ve demonstrated the ability to keep up in high-scoring games. Prediction: Washington State +20.5.

Tennessee vs. Alabama (+8.5) – Over/Under: 49.5: Alabama has admirably navigated roster issues during a five-game winning streak, but their offense ranks 63rd in the nation for expected points added (EPA) per play. They may lack the explosiveness to secure a comfortable victory against capable opponents, and Tennessee could keep the game competitive. Prediction: Lean toward Tennessee +8.5.

Ole Miss vs. Auburn (-6.5) – Over/Under: 56.5: Ole Miss, known for their high-flying offense, faces an Auburn team with a slower pace and offensive limitations. Auburn’s recent performance against LSU, a team Ole Miss defeated last month, suggests a favorable matchup. Prediction: Play Ole Miss -6.5.

Michigan vs. Michigan State (-23.5) – Over/Under: 48: Michigan State has historically troubled Michigan, but this year’s talent gap appears significant. Prediction: Play Michigan -23.5.

Duke vs. Florida State (+14) – Over/Under: 49: Duke’s quarterback, Riley Leonard, may play through an ankle injury. The point spread seems fair, though slightly high for Duke without Leonard. If he plays, it could be a closer game. Prediction: Lean toward Duke +14.

Utah vs. USC (+7) – Over/Under: 56: USC’s offense is struggling and must face Utah’s experienced defense. Although the spread appears accurate, USC’s recent lackluster performances raise concerns. Prediction: Guess Utah +7.

These matchups promise excitement and intrigue, as teams battle it out on the gridiron, with the potential for unexpected outcomes and thrilling plays.

Significant Matchups

New Mexico State vs. UTEP (-3.5) – Over/Under: 48.5: UTEP, despite a challenging season, recently found their first cover in a Football Bowl Subdivision game. Their revamped offense, led by new quarterback Cade McConnell, adds unpredictability for opponents. New Mexico State, on the other hand, has dominated weaker teams like Florida International and Sam Houston in recent weeks. Prediction: Play UTEP +3.5.

Mississippi State vs. Arkansas (+6.5) – Over/Under: 48.5: Arkansas, plagued by injuries, faces a high asking price. The game aligns with Mississippi State’s preferred slower pace, making it their prime opportunity for a conference victory. With the advantage of a bye week for extra preparation, they aim to capitalize. Prediction: Play Mississippi State +6.5.

Boston College vs. Georgia Tech (-4.5) – Over/Under: 58.5: Georgia Tech, ranked 48th nationally in EPA per play, faces Boston College, ranked 88th. Most metrics favor Georgia Tech, indicating they should be closer to a touchdown favorite. Prediction: Play Georgia Tech -4.5.

Baylor vs. Cincinnati (+2.5) – Over/Under: 50.5: Baylor, despite a less-than-ideal resume, welcomes back quarterback Blake Shapen, who missed significant playing time. Cincinnati has received ample respect in the betting market, but their only FBS cover came against a struggling Pittsburgh team. Prediction: Play Baylor +2.5.

UTSA vs. Florida Atlantic (-3.5) – Over/Under: 60: Florida Atlantic’s offense is showing promise under new quarterback Daniel Richardson, which was somewhat expected given the influence of Tom Herman’s coaching. UTSA’s defense has struggled, providing Richardson with an opportunity to further shine. Prediction: Play Florida Atlantic +3.5.

Texas Tech vs. BYU (+4.5) – Over/Under: 52: Texas Tech faces challenges on the road, particularly at higher elevations, as evidenced by their loss to Wyoming in the season’s early weeks. They might also contend with a third-string quarterback, as Behren Morton could be a gametime decision. BYU appears to have an edge in this matchup. Prediction: Play BYU +4.5.

Additional Selections

Plays:

  • Utah State (+4.5) against San Jose State
  • Georgia Southern (-16.5) versus UL Monroe

Leans:

  • Houston (+24) against Texas
  • Miami (+3.5) versus Clemson
  • Wisconsin (-2.5) at Illinois
  • UNR (+14) against San Diego State
  • Northwestern (+12) at Nebraska
  • Tulane (-20) against North Texas
  • SMU (-19.5) at Temple
  • Kent State (+7) against Buffalo
  • Ball State (+4.5) versus Central Michigan
  • Bowling Green (-7.5) against Akron
  • Hawaii (pick’em) at New Mexico
  • Rutgers (-4.5) at Indiana
  • Pittsburgh (+2.5) against Wake Forest
  • North Carolina (-23.5) versus Virginia
  • Miami (Ohio) (+2) against Toledo
  • Eastern Michigan (+12.5) at Northern Illinois
  • Minnesota (+4) at Iowa
  • Washington (-26.5) against Arizona State
  • Charlotte (+7) at East Carolina
  • Marshall (+4) against James Madison
  • Western Michigan (+17) at Ohio

Guesses:

  • Old Dominion (+6.5) against Appalachian State
  • Memphis (-5.5) at UAB
  • Coastal Carolina (-10) against Arkansas State
  • Connecticut (+2) against South Florida
  • Colorado State (+8) at UNLV
  • Georgia State (+3) at Louisiana
  • Tulsa (-3) against Rice
  • Air Force (-10.5) at Navy
  • Kansas State (+6.5) against TCU
  • South Carolina (+7) at Missouri
  • Florida International (+5.5) at Sam Houston
  • Stanford (+17) at UCLA
  • Army (+30.5) at LSU

These picks provide a comprehensive view of the diverse matchups in college football, covering a wide range of teams and spread possibilities. Each game holds the potential for thrilling moments and surprising results.
Reference:

https://lasvegassun.com/blogs/talking-points/2023/oct/18/college-football-odds-picks-week8-penn-state/

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